Tom Strand

At-large City Councilor Tom Strand was elected as Council president on April 20 and will serve two years.

In its second act as a newly formed city governing body, City Council split 5-4 on who should serve as president pro tem, with former President Richard Skorman prevailing.

The previous pro tem, Tom Strand, was elected as president on a vote of 8-1 in the new Council's first official act after three new members and three incumbents took the oath of office just hours before. Incumbent Bill Murray dissented.

Choosing Skorman were Wayne Williams, Yolanda Avila, Strand, new councilor Nancy Henjum and Skorman himself.

New councilor Dave Donelson drew support from himself, Murray, Mike O'Malley (who was appointed in January to an unexpired term and was elected April 6 to a full term), and new member Randy Helms.

Donelson said he wanted the job, despite his inexperience, saying he viewed the April 6 low turnout of 27 percent as a reflection of disenfranchised voters not seeing results.

"I think it's important for voters to see when they vote, there's change and that it has an effect on leadership," Donelson said. "It's not a bad thing to have change. I will bring a new energy level ... and be a hard-working and dedicated pro tem."

Skorman said it helps to have experience when holding a leadership position, and he's served a total of 11 years so far on Council, in two different stints. "I have a lot of knowledge of how we've done things in the past and what's coming in the future," Skorman said.

He also noted his numerous contacts with other agencies and governments in the region developed over his years of service.

Strand spoke eloquently about Skorman's service, noting his passion for certain topics, such as parks and open space, fire mitigation, water supply and stormwater controls. "I know he will put every ounce of energy into pro tem from 2021 to 2023," he said.

Williams, who's expected to be elected as chair of the Colorado Springs Utilities Board on April 21, supported Skorman, saying, "It's not always easy to seek input from nine council members," and thanked him for the "grace" with which he handled the president's role for the past four years.

Williams also noted, largely in response to Helms' comment that the new people want to move into leadership positions soon, that Council has many subgroups, such as the Finance Committee, on which other members can become involved.

Skorman thanked his fellow members for allowing him "the great honor" of serving as president the past four years.

"It's truly an honor, it really is, to work with the Councils we had in the past," Skorman said. "I'm going to miss everybody terribly. The last four years was my favorite [group of councilors]. But I'm looking forward to the next four years. I think it might beat that one.

"We really are public servants," he added. "We should feel really good about how we let the public speak to us, and be able to express their issues and we do it in a way that's graceful and do it in a way that people feel included."

Skorman out-polled Donelson in the April 6 election, winning his District 3 race with 9,650 votes, compared to Donelson's 9,183 votes garnered in District 1. In fact, Skorman gathered the most votes of any candidate in any district in the election.

As for the concept that the new Council represents change, it's worth noting that the outcome of the Council election didn't largely alter the complexion of the board, as the Indy previously reported here.

Senior Reporter

Pam Zubeck is a graduate from Emporia State University. She worked at the Tulsa Tribune before coming to Colorado Springs, where she spent 16 years at the Gazette and in 2009 joined Colorado Publishing House.